Former judges, lawyers advocate cordial relationship between bar and bench
Jammu: Days after the Supreme Court held lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt of court for his two tweets against the judiciary, eminent legal luminaries from Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday expressed concern over the growing rift between the bar and the bench and advocated cordial relationship between the two in the interest of justice.
Three former judges and several senior advocates were exchanging their views at a webinar organised by the Jammu-based news network on the theme ‘Bar and Bench – the relationship’.
CBI counsel at the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Monika Kohli, moderating the discussion, observed that judges and lawyers are complementary to each other and the bar and the bench are the two wheels of the chariot involved in the dispensation of justice.
“The primary duty of the lawyer is to inform the court about the facts of a case and help it arrive at the correct conclusions. Good and strong advocacy by the counsel is necessary in the administration of justice,” she said.
Former Chief Justice of Sikkim High Court Permod Kohli said judicial independence is the hallmark of democracy and the relationship between the bar and the bench must be cordial.
“I believe the bar and the bench are the two faces of the same coin. The rule of law cannot be operated upon without a free and fearless judiciary,” he said, adding the bar has the right to analyse and criticise any judgement.
Former Chief Justice of Meghalaya High Court Mohammad Yaqoob Mir also stressed the need for the harmonious working of the bar and the bench and said it is a must for the deliverance of the justice.
“Both have important duties to discharge to uphold the majesty of the law. Judges are supposed to be patient and not deviate from the right path,” he said, highlighting the need to maintain the decorum of the court by mutual respect and proper behaviour.
In his remarks, former Jammu and Kashmir High Court judge Justice (retired)J P Singh said the justice dispensation in the country is done primarily by the judge who is assisted by learned advocates.
“The golden thread of this system is ‘satyamev jayate’ and in order to arrive at the truth, both the advocates and judges have a great job to do. Their duties are of so much importance that any laxity in discharge of duty may result in miscarriage of justice,” he said.
“We need to relook the present relationship between the two. The lawyers must be respectful to the court and so the judges,” he said and highlighted the need for addressing the deficiencies in the system to allow the bar and the bench to act fearlessly and without any favour.
Former president of Kashmir Bar Association Zaffar Ahmad Shah referred to the Supreme Court holding Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt of court and said the relation between the bar and the bench for quite some time has come under the strain.
“Something has gone wrong somewhere. We need to identify the cause and address the issue,” he said and suggested judicial reforms and making the selection process of the judges more transparent.
Former president of Jammu Bar Association and chief spokesperson of JK BJP Sunil Sethi asked what changes overnight when a lawyer becomes a judge is that “he is not equal anymore and he becomes a superior to the advocates that is the perception”.
Senior lawyer Rahul Pant said the bar and the bench need to move forward in a harmony for delivery of justice to the people.
“There are many hiccups which we are facing in the courts, in the system and the country as a whole also. The country is witness to the fact that two days back one of the lawyers (Bhushan) has been convicted for contempt of the court and this disharmony was building up for the last two three years and the same is happening in our courts as well.
“It is not the phenomenon which is confined to Delhi alone, but is prevalent everywhere because the system has been overburdened and the pressure is building up on the lawyers due to huge pendency of the cases,” he said.
Advocating for a strong bench and strong bar, he said fairness in the system is required along with the congenial atmosphere so that the lawyers can perform their duties in a better way.
Senior advocate Gaurav Pachnanda, while highlighting the relations between the bar and the bench, said it was sad to see that humour has gone missing from courtrooms and quoted several examples of the country’s first Solicitor General C K Daphtary cracking jokes in courts.